by Sandra Kraisirideja
Hail, Caesar! is the latest movie from Joel and Ethan Coen that uses humor and a wacky sensibility to ponder religion, politics, and entertainment.
It’s a valentine to the Golden Age of Hollywood starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum.
The story is set in the early 1950s which saw the decline of Hollywood’s Golden Age and the rise of the Television Age. A studio fixer named Eddie Mannix (Brolin) is tasked with finding the world’s biggest star when he is kidnapped from the set of his latest movie, a sweeping epic titled “Hail, Caesar!”
Production designer Jess Gonchor and costume designer Mary Zophres do an excellent job recreating the time period. It’s especially fun to see the different kinds of productions recreated, from westerns to elegant dramas set in high society.
Josh Brolin is in nearly every scene and does a suitable job. While this is being marketed as a comedy Brolin plays it straight. It would be interesting to see him do more comedy.
Like most Coen brothers’ movies it’s important to pay attention. Multiple story lines are at play here and the story bounces around between all of them in a random way. The only connection between all of them is Mannix.
The beauty of the Coen brothers movies is they tend to get better with time and often benefit from repeat viewings. It wouldn’t be fair to judge their movies after a single viewing. With Hail, Caesar! they do what they do best—create a world that is believable despite the fantastical situations shown.